By Mason Mohon | USA
Alex Merced is a New York Libertarian, who ran for a New York Senatorial seat in 2016, and Comptroller in 2017. Now, Alex is running for Vice Chair of the Libertarian National Convention. Alex has an extensive amount of Libertarian theory and ideas explained on his YouTube channel, and he is constantly advocating Libertarianism across social media. You can find Mr. Merced’s website here. He has B.A. in popular culture studies with a minor in marketing from Bowling Green State University. Merced has been involved with the Libertarian Party on many levels and holds potential for the liberty movement, so I decided to interview him. Alex was gracious enough to provide us with insight on his thoughts on many matters.
71R: What drew you to the Libertarian Party?
Merced: I’ve been passionate about the Libertarian message since 2007 when like many my age was “woken up” by the Ron Paul 2008 campaign. I tell the exact details of this story in my youtube video “The Aspirational Libertarian”. Ron Paul got me into broader libertarian activism and education, Michael Sanchez who was the LP candidate for NYC Mayor in 2013 was aware of my work and drafted me to the Public Advocate candidate that year and I’ve stayed involved ever since.
71R: What do you think of the current political climate for Libertarians in New York?
Merced: The devil’s in the details. In order to win larger elections, you need to win down-ballot races and have down-ballot candidates. The problem is ballot access rules make those races the hardest to participate in until we earn statewide ballot access. So many people will often criticize people like myself for running statewide and citywide races but right now it’s about building up the momentum to earn ballot access in 2018 so we can compete down ballot going forward. So right now all eyes are on Larry Sharpe 2018, I am volunteering as the policy director of the campaign currently. (50k votes for governor is how a party gets ballot access in NY. we got 17k votes in 2014 and 48k votes in 2010) (The only time a New York candidate has broken 50k votes was Norma Segal in 1992 for US Senate which does NOT earn the party ballot access)
71R: Tell us a bit about your 2016 Senatorial bid.
Merced: There are two politicians who I always said if I can run against them I would jump at the opportunity: Anthony Weiner and Chuck Schumer. To me the represented the epitome of politics as usual so while Weiner ended up taking care of himself 2016 Schumer was up for re-election so I threw my name in for the nomination and successfully got the nomination of the LP. I traveled the state with the help of the entire NYLP who truly became my family during that journey. I ended getting the 3rd highest statewide vote total in NYLP history and met a lot of new people who have become involved with the LP since and still to this day get contacted regularly by people over the state voicing their support.
71R: Tell us a bit about your 2017 Comptroller bid.
Merced: [It consisted of m]eeting New Yorkers all across the state, [and] many of them were workers depending on their pensions. The issue came up a lot and I did some research I was shocked to see the conditions that NYC pensions were in and that neither of the candidates for the duopoly had any relevant experience (a career politicians vs a former pro-football player) so I decided to take my decade in the financial industry to give people an option with relevant experience and a focus on real solutions to the pension bomb that is the NYC pension system. The Democrats essentially ignored all the city issues and campaigned against Trump which was effective in blue NYC but many workers expressed appreciation for my efforts to teach them about the pension issue and are trying within their union to push for many of the reforms I discussed. I know we can’t always win an election, but if you can articulate answers to people change can happen even if it isn’t direct.
71R: What made you decide to run for LNC Vice-Chair?
Merced: With a lot of the controversies surrounding the current Vice-Chair many voiced concerns that while they want a Vice-Chair that is less divisive they still want someone with a bold libertarian vision and understanding of libertarianism who can still put forward a positive broadly accessible message. I originally was considering a run for At-Large but then I got a call from Johnny Adams of the Johnny Rocket Launchpad asking me to consider the run for Vice Chair. Afterwards, I got a similar call from many influential libertarians who will be making public endorsements over the next several months. It was clear that people believed that I could serve as a unifier of different interests (bold libertarian views with pragmatic and positive packaging). At the end of the day, my goal is to serve the movement in whatever way I can, as I do believe a libertarian change in our life is a matter of a drastically different quality of life for many. So I enter the race with every intention of being the most effective Vice-Chair I can be not just in its day to day responsibilities but as a public face for the party.
To learn about many of my other goals and ideas for the position please visit AlexMercedforLNC.com.
71R: How do you think you’ll be able to utilize the knowledge from your previous two races in this race?
Merced: I’ve been a two-time County Party Officer and three-time Candidate. I’ve learned about the needs of serving in these positions and want to take those lessons learned in helping national provide chapters and candidates the support to grow more and more. The LNC has made many positive investments during the years and I hope my experience can add value to the conversation. I also hope to be very active in communicating affiliates and independent caucus groups to help them feel even more represented and involved with national. Cohesion and Unity is a high priority for me.
71R: How has your minor in marketing assisted you in politics and furthering the LP?
Merced: I am academically trained in cultural studies and marketing, I professionally work in education and finance, and technology and media is a passion for me. Having a diverse amount of skills, knowledge, and perspective has helped me be able to get a lot of mileage out of my projects on a shoestring budget. This also shows me that most problems have pretty simple solutions if your willing to learn more and learn often.
71R: What do you think of Arvin Vohra? In what ways will you be better than him?
Merced: My personal experiences with Arvin have been positive. He’s been kind to me even gave me a very warm introduction when I spoke at the 2016 LNC. That being said he’s become very divisive as of late which to me isn’t the role of being an elected leader. An elected leader should aim to promote the principles of the organization in a way that unites and grows the organization I feel this has not been achieved as of late which is why I’ve been trying to double down my positive accessible outreach efforts. I try to be an example of what I’d like to see, I always find it more effective than telling others what they should be doing.
71R: What do you think of Nick Sarwark?
Merced: Again, my personal experiences with Nick have been fine, I think he ran the LNC 2016 quite well. I do think the back and forth with Tom Woods was unnecessary and counterproductive but overall I think Nick has been fine although I think anyone overtime in a leadership position becomes polarized whether they aim to be or not. (Anyone with enough time will have everything they say parsed and over analyzed resulting in factions for and against them, which is a good reason to have a regular rotation of leadership so these divisions don’t get too deep.)
71R: Who is your preferred LNC chairman?
Merced: I will be making an endorsement at some point and I am leaning towards Joshua Smith. Mainly, I’ve got to know him pretty well over the last several months and feel we have complementary skills and being from different coasts gives good exposure. Essentially you generally would want the Chair and Vice Chair to kind of be opposites, one to be a more calm figure looking to keep everyone together and the other one willing to be more willing to find a hill and fight to defend it. (I feel Sarwark and Vohra had many of these same complimentary features but Vohra especially is starting to become too divisive within the party for that pairing to survive 2018. I think I can work well with Nick although I think we overlap more so than compliment each other).
71R: Do you have plans to work together with a candidate for LNC Chair to replace Nick and Arvin together?
Merced: I consider everyone running for both positions friends and family. I hope to be amicable and work with everyone to make sure all the delegates know what their options are and vote for what they think will move the party forward the best.
71R: What kind of Libertarian do you consider yourself?
Merced: I stopped embracing particular labels long ago. Let me put it this way…
I want to give people more control over their life, body, and property and lessen governments control over it.
How far can that go? I’d love to find out. I’m always willing to push the envelope further in that goal but I don’t feel it’s necessary to make an absolute guess of how far the liberty agenda can push. How about we push, assess, then push further, repeat till you can’t push any further. The most important thing is to get people on the same page of pushing and that’s where I focus my energy.
71R: What else would you like people to know?
Merced: I’m an open book. I’ve over the last 10 years probably fallen into every libertarian sub-group you can think of at some point or other. Over 2000 videos on youtube document my intellectual evolution over the years. My convictions are deep and part of me, but I, more importantly, want to foster the asking of questions, the hope for a better tomorrow that’ll help others develop their own convictions.